Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Marta McDowell

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The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder
by Marta McDowell


ISBN-13: 9781604697278
Hardcover: 390 pages
Publisher: Timber Press
Released: Sept. 20, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
A must-read companion to the Little House books. 2017 is the 150th anniversary of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s birthday. Her beloved Little House series tells a classic coming-of-age story based on Wilder’s own family life and is a reflection of the pioneer spirit of the time. They are also deeply rooted in the natural world. The plants, animals, and landscapes are so integral to the stories, they are practically their own characters.

The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder, by New York Times bestselling author Marta McDowell, explores Wilder’s deep relationship to the landscape. Follow the wagon trail of the series, starting in the Wisconsin setting of Little House in the Big Woods to the Dakotas and finally to Missouri. Throughout, you’ll learn details about Wilder’s life and inspirations, discover how to visit the real places today, and even learn to grow the plants and vegetables featured in the stories.

The artful package includes original illustrations by Helen Sewell and Garth Williams, along with historical and contemporary photographs.


My Review:
The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder is a companion book to the Little House books. We're told the locations and dates for each book in the series. Going book by book, the author explained things like the history of each location and what was typical for the area at that time. She also gave more detail on the plants and farm work mentioned in the books. There were many pictures and illustrations of the places, tools, and plants. She included maps showing the locations where Laura lived.

Basically, each chapter was a companion to a book or location in the series: Wisconsin Woods (Little House in the Big Woods), New York Farm (Farmer Boy), Prairie of Kansas (Little House on the Prairie), Creekside in Minnesota & Iowa (On the Banks of Plum Creek), The Dakota Prairie (By the Shores of Silver Lake and The Long Winter), Settled Farm & Settled Town (Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years), and Great Plains to Ozark Ridge (The First Four Years). The author also covered Laura's life at Rocky Ridge Farm and Rock Home (based on letters, newspapers, and other writings).

She ended by describing the places that a person might enjoy visiting if interested in seeing the places where Laura Wilder lived. She also included a list of plants mentioned in the books for those interested in planting those flowers, trees, etc. The book was a fun, quick read. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book to fans of the Little House series.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, September 18, 2017

The Englishman's England by Ian Ousby

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The Englishman's England
by Ian Ousby


ISBN-13: 9781910670859
Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Thistle Publishing
Released: Sept. 12, 2016

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
The English tourist industry is not the modern creation we often suppose. Ian Ousby investigates the landmarks chosen by the English for their leisure travel over the centuries. He looks in particular at four types of attraction still prominent on the tourist map of England: literary shrines, country houses, picturesque ruins and the natural landscape. All these first became objects of fashionable attention during the eighteenth century, when improvements in transport combined with a spirit of practical inquiry to breed the first generation of travellers who called themselves ‘tourists’.

Drawing on a wide range of sources - journals, travel books and guidebooks, novels and poems, as well as many engravings – Ian Ousby traces the canons of taste which led the early tourists to seek out places like Stratford-upon-Avon, Chatsworth, Tintern Abbey and the Lake District, and records the stages by which these places acquired the trappings of the tourist attraction. Above all, he shows the development not just of an industry but of a state of mind marked, from its earliest phase, by the underlying fear that tourism is fated to spoil or even destroy the very thing it most admires.


My Review:
The Englishman's England looked at what sites and objects drew the interest of the eighteenth century tourist. The author looked at traveler's letters, diaries, journals, and guide books to see what sites they visited and what they thought about them. He often quoted from these sources. If one tourist talked about a place, others soon came to visit until it turned into a tourist trap. Locals sold mementos, guides demanded fees, stations were marked out for ideal viewing of a scene, or cannons, singing, or instruments were used to heighten the traveler's experience.

The author looked at the literary shrines they visited (graves or monuments to an author, the places the author wrote about, their birth places, etc.), their opinions about various fancy country houses (and the fees and attitudes of those allowing or guiding these tours), the draw of ruins like Stonehenge or of old abbeys and cathedrals, and places in the Peak District and Lake District that drew people for the caves, crags, and views. He talked about changing tastes reflected in how they viewed various sites and what they criticized.

These sites were usually under private ownership at the time, so what the owners did with the sites provoked discussion about how far a site (like a ruin) should be preserved in its present state or developed to accommodate tourists. Overall, I'd recommend this interesting book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Start Your Own Etsy Business by Jason R. Rich

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Start Your Own Etsy Business
by The Staff of Entrepreneur Media, Inc.,
Jason R. Rich


ISBN-13: 9781599186092
Paperback: 180 pages
Publisher: Entrepreneur Media Inc.
Released: Sept. 12, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description from NetGalley:
Whether you’re a master crafter, a carpenter, a jewelry designer, or have become passionate about making the best home d├ęcor in town, now is the time to go from hobby to full-time business owner. And with million shoppers ready to discover your unique offerings it only makes sense to join the largest, most successful online community of creative entrepreneurs on Etsy®.

Our experts have teamed up with successful shop owners to provide you with Start Your Own Etsy® Business, an easy-to-understand, comprehensive blueprint that takes you through setting up, branding, marketing, and managing your store. You’ll learn how to:

• Create listings and marketing plans that attract the right customers
• Choose keywords and tags design to drive traffic to your shop
• Pick the right shipping and packaging methods to meet your inventory needs
• Define your brand with carefully crafted logos, product listings, and images
• Reach more shoppers with targeted social media and advertising campaigns
• Create storytelling product listings and professional looking product photos
• Decide when it’s time to turn your part-time hobby into a full-time business venture

Plus, gain worksheets, templates, resource lists and tips designed to go from passion to profits. If you’re ready to share your passion for your craft with millions around the world, this guide is for you.


My Review:
Start Your Own Etsy Business is a book about starting your own small business and effectively selling your crafts on Etsy. The book started with an overview of Etsy and starting your own small business. Then the author went into more detail about what's involved in setting up a small business, from business plans and tax IDs to inventory management and accounting. He talked about determining what you need to get set up, your costs and prices, your target audience, and branding.

He then described step-by-step how to open an Etsy account, set up your store, and add product listings. He also discussed fees, setting prices and shipping costs, taking (or hiring) professional photographs of your products, choosing and including search words, writing effective text to describe your product, and more. He also discussed promotion and marketing using paid advertising and social media.

He included advice from successful Etsy sellers, including specific things they did that increased their sells. I found this advice both interesting and helpful. The author included plenty of links to online help pages and included some sample worksheets. While this book will help anyone who wants to set up an Etsy account, it's targeted at those who want to create a profitable business from their crafting. Overall, I'd recommend this book.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, September 1, 2017

Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond by Alex Lewin, Raquel Guajardo

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Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond
by Alex Lewin,
Raquel Guajardo


ISBN-13: 9781592337385
Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Fair Winds Press
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
Fermented foods help improve digestion, enable us to better assimilate vitamins and minerals, and strengthen the immune system. Of all fermented foods, drinks are some of the most versatile—and tasty! Think kombucha, kefir, and real ginger ale. Many of these items you can buy in the store, but making them at home is simple, economical, and even better for you. With just a few ingredients and materials, you can start brewing your own delicious beverages for your family.

Ferment Your Drinks is packed with innovative drink recipes, from healthy homemade sodas to traditional kvass and cider, that you can make in your home kitchen and enjoy all year long! Inside, you’ll learn:

--The history of fermentation and the value of traditional foods
--The benefits of fermented drinks to your health
--All the basics: the process, the tools, and how to get started
--How to use starters to make kombucha, kefir, root beer, wine, and others again and again
--Age-old recipes for kvass, switchel, vinegar, and mead
--Everything you need to know about why the recipes work, why they are safe, what to do if they go wrong, and how to modify them to suit your taste


My Review:
Kombucha, Kefir, and Beyond explains how to safely make your own fermented drinks. The authors talked about why you should drink fermented drinks, provided an evolutionary history of fermented drink consumption, gave a simplified version of the science of fermenting foods, and described the tools that you need or might like to have to make your own fermented drinks.

They provided about 24 recipes that use fermented foods--plus other ingredients--to make a drink. Most of these were in the fermented cocktails section. The rest of the recipes were how to ferment a food, some part of which can be used as or made into a drink. They started with 6 master recipes for making ginger bug, yogurt, milk kefir, whey, vinegar, and water kefir.

The next chapter was about tea fermentation (kombucha and jun). Next were 6 recipes for vegetable drinks using brine from fermented beets, cucumbers, or radishes and making a juice out of kimchi and such. Next were 7 recipes for making bubbly sodas by fermenting hibiscus, coconut water, grapes, lemons, limes, oranges, or fruit juices. The last chapters covered recipes for fermenting mildly alcoholic drinks: 5 beer recipes (including root beet and ginger beer), 10 wines and ciders (including berry wine, apple cider, pear cider, mead, and rice wine), 4 Mexican drinks, and 18 fermented cocktails.

The instructions were easy to follow and most should be easy to do. They don't require expensive equipment or ingredients. I've made yogurt and kefir in the past, and I felt like they gave good instructions for those. It looked like the other recipes were as useful. I plan to try the ginger bug, apple cider (non-alcoholic version), and coconut water soda recipes soon.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Modern Watercolor by Kristin Van Leuven

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Modern Watercolor
by Kristin Van Leuven


ISBN-13: 9781633223561
Paperback: 128 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from NetGalley:
This dynamic and inspirational guide will set you down a path of exploration as you learn to play with watercolors. You will learn to effectively use basic techniques and principles to create beautiful, expressive works of art. From selecting your first watercolor paints to learning to blend colors into a unique palette, we are here to guide you as you begin your journey.

These easy-to-follow lessons will explore using watercolor on different surfaces, how to create basic shapes using fun techniques, and how to create myriad gorgeous effects that can be achieved with different brushes and strokes. You will even learn how to add layers of dimension and texture and how to work with resist techniques to create pretty patterns and gorgeous backgrounds.


My Review:
Modern Watercolor is an art instruction book for using watercolors. Kristin has a loose (not highly detailed or realistic) style. This is a good book for a beginner at watercolor as she provided plenty of pictures and clear instruction. When showing how to make a flower or animal, she explained how to achieve the desired affect rather than just a brief summary of what she did. By focusing on the techniques, the reader can learn to use watercolor not just replicate her paintings. Overall, I'd recommend this book.

She started by briefly explaining what supplies you need, then she explained basic techniques (wet-in-wet, etc.), color theory, and color mixing. She showed how the different types of brushes make a wide variety of marks, what brushes are good for certain marks, how to make basic shapes (circles, squares, etc.), and how to use watercolor brushes to make cursive lettering. She also covered various ways to preserve white and remove paint.

She showed step-by-step how to make several types of flowers, like peonies, roses (top view), pansies, tulips, and small flowers. She also demonstrated several types of leaves and foliage and how to put them all together to create wreaths (for framing text) or floral patterns (a wallpaper type look). She also did step-by-step demonstrations for several animals (fox, squirrel, chicken, pig, dog, cat, rabbit, beetle, butterfly, elephant, lion) and discussed how to create different human skin tones by mixing colors. She ended with some brief demonstrations for "abstract" landscapes (lakeside, sunset) and interiors (vintage and cottage living rooms). The animals and interiors were sketched before being filled in with paint.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Lettering with Purpose by Brittany Luiz

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Lettering with Purpose
by Brittany Luiz


ISBN-13: 9781633223424
Paperback: 144 pages
Publisher: Walter Foster Publishing
Released: Sept. 1, 2017

Source: ebook review copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
Whether you’re hoping to personalize greeting cards, or just enjoy the art, hand lettering is an uplifting and compelling craft to learn. Aspiring artists and lettering enthusiasts will explore and deepen their understanding of this art form by delving into a variety of lettering techniques. You will also enjoy 100 reflective lettering prompts to spur the imagination and help readers answer the question: "What should I write?"

Your lettering journey will begin with lettering basics. This intuitive guide includes suggested tools and materials, the anatomy of letters, how to pair different lettering styles, and thorough tutorials on working with a variety of mediums. You’ll be creating striking layouts and compositions in no time.

Additionally, artists will find a wide range of lettering styles and techniques demonstrated step by step, including brush calligraphy, bounce lettering, and more, plus complete alphabet ideas that include reproducible practice pages that can be used to perfect their skills. Once your artistic bones are there, move on to adding embellishments and flourishes! Add pizzazz to your work with frames, laurels and garlands, flowers, swirls, and more.

To cap it all off, a section of perforated pages at the back of the book contains fully illustrated frames, with blank openings so readers can fill them in with their own inspired lettered designs.


My Review:
Lettering with Purpose is a book teaching how to "letter" to personalize greeting cards and such. I once read a nib-pen calligraphy book that left me feeling so overwhelmed that I never even tried it. Besides, I wanted to use a brush and maybe not just with ink but with watercolor. Well, this was the book I was really looking for! The author teaches how to use markers or brushes (with watercolor) to make fancy-looking lettering.

She started by explaining the anatomy of a letter, how to make calligraphy-style letters, and suggested tools and materials. She talked about other styles of lettering, how to lay out a phrase to make a cool-looking design, how to digitize your work, how to add flowers and such as a way to fill in block letters or frame a phrase, and more. She provided a step-by-step guide for 5 easy-looking projects and 100 writing prompts to get you busy practicing various words.

This book left me feeling eager to try out lettering and made it seem both do-able and fun. I'd certainly recommend it.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.


Excerpt: Read an excerpt using Google Preview.

Friday, August 25, 2017

So Close to Amazing by KariAnne Wood

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So Close to Amazing
by KariAnne Wood


ISBN-13: 9781496422019
Hardcover: 240 pages
Publisher: Tyndale Momentum
Released: Sept. 5, 2017

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description, Modified from Goodreads:
A debut memoir from the beloved Thistlewood Farms blogger, So Close to Amazing is a collection of hilarious and heartfelt reflections on getting it almost right--and how, instead of giving up, we can choose to simply embrace our real selves right where we are. It's about grace and learning from mistakes and rejoicing in every victory, no matter how small. Because when you find joy in the "you" God created you to be, you'll discover the amazing that was there all along.

Contains beautiful DIY project ideas anyone can do--Homemade signs, centerpieces, recipe walls, and more!


My Review:
So Close to Amazing is a humorous memoir by a DIY blogger. She mainly focused her stories on the challenges of moving from Texas to Kentucky and remodeling their "new" 100-year-old home in the country. The overarching theme was how she thought she'd done something amazing (perfect outfit, awesome project, etc.) only it didn't quite work out as she expected. She'd tell a story of something that had happened, wrap up with a life lesson (usually tied to her relationship with God), and then provide a step-by-step Do-It-Yourself project on 2-5 pages containing hand-drawn pictures with some instructions text.

The 12 DIY projects were: a hand-painted sign, too-short curtain rods, sanded and stained old table, large table centerpiece involving foliage, pottery wall mosaic, hand-painted linoleum "floor cloth," huge chalkboard calendar, giant recipe decoration, pillow with a monogram, rustic mirror, coffee crate dish display holders, and mason jar vases. She likes to work big, so the instructions were usually for projects that will take up a lot of wall or floor space. The instructions look do-able, but she assumed you already have basic work-working and other DIY skills.


If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.